Concert Review: Alex Lahey, November 22, Drake Hotel

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by Melody Lau

It’s always neat to see what touring musicians are most excited about when they first touch down in Canada. For Australian Alex Lahey, her immediate thoughts upon entering the country for the first time may or may not have been inspired by the name of the venue she was playing at on Wednesday night, the Drake Hotel. “Drake and I house-swapped,” she eagerly told the crowd, noting that our “6 God” was in her hometown that same night and perhaps even staying at Lahey’s parents’ home. And while the rapper might’ve missed out on welcoming Lahey to his city, many eager fans were there to greet her.

Lahey has had a very busy year. To kick off 2017, she opened for Tegan and Sara in Europe, which was a great pairing of acts and, actually, an ideal gateway into the world of Lahey’s music. Lahey’s breakneck pop melodies recall the Canadian sister duo’s more guitar-driven anthems (think So Jealous’ “Speak Slow” or The Con’s “Hop a Plane”) and while Tegan and Sara have shifted to a more synth-focused sound nowadays, Lahey proves that a mean riff can still deliver a powerful sing-along earworm.

All of that is encapsulated on Lahey’s debut full-length, I Love You Like A Brother, which came out in October. It’s a confident collection of songs about not being entirely confident in yourself. From financial woes to failed romances, I Love You Like A Brother paints a messy portrait of a 20-something, but distilling these characteristics into infectious pop gems that dare us to celebrate instead of dwell on these missteps and flaws.

Live, she rips through songs with such speed and precision that dwelling is never an option. Instead, all you can do is bop and dance along as Lahey shreds through album opener, “Every Day’s The Weekend,” or highlight, “I Haven’t Been Taking Care of Myself.” It’s a fun show that almost feels like she’s breezing through a greatest hits set, except she’s only got one EP and one LP to her name.

At one point in the evening, Lahey pointed out that she and her band (a drummer, guitar and bassist round out her live act) elect an MVP at each show. She gave examples of previous winners on tour such as a man who told his girlfriend he loved her for the first time after “I Want U” (“He definitely got laid that night,” she added) or a woman who attended her show hours after a surgery. Perhaps she forgot due to her excitement of listing off her favourite Canadians (among them are Shania Twain and Tegan and Sara tour mate Ria Mae), but Lahey never named an MVP on Wednesday night. To which I’ll just go ahead and say, on behalf of the Toronto audience, that Lahey was the true MVP of the night.

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